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Someone to listen: new training program to make a good idea great.

The basic principle is as old as uman nature. A person in trouble can speak most openly to someone who has weathered a similar storm. The last three decades in America have seen the growth of peer support for nearly every human problem, and MS is no exception.

"By 1990, almost a quarter of our chap- ters had some ldnd of peer-to-peer program," said Patricia Murphy, MSW, LCSW, grants and special projects manager for the National MS Society's Client and Community Services Department. Several chapters had created dynamic model programs. The Society decided to spur new programs and build up "friendly visitor" efforts teaching volunteers good listening, problem-solving, and crisis intervention techniques -- as well ways to recognize when professional help is needed.

The result, "Someone to Listen", is a two-part manual for the NMSS Peer Counseling Program designed to strengthen existing programs or to get new ones started. It provides guidelines for recruitment, model training materials, record-keeping and qualitycontrol procedures, and instruction on support for the volunteers, who will find peer counseling emotionally overwhelming on occasion.

"One-on-one peer counseling is an essential service," said Dr. Nancy Holland, vice president of the Client and Community Services Department. "Our chapters' surveys consistently show that people with MS rate talking with someone else who has MS as a need second only to more information about the disease.

* If you would like to talk with a peer counselor or volunteer to became one, telephone your local NMSS chapter.
COPYRIGHT 1993 National Multiple Sclerosis Society
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:hot line for multiple sclerosis patients
Publication:Inside MS
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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